A Timeline of Food

By Tim Lambert

c 20,000 BC People in Europe eat mammoths, reindeer, red deer, bison, and wild horses

c 1,200 BC People in Egypt eat bread and beer. They also eat sheep, pigs, cows, and goats as well as ducks, geese, and fish. They grow marrows, beans, lentils, leeks, radishes, and lettuces

c 400 BC Ordinary people in Greece eat a great deal of bread. They also eat cheese and fish and (if they can afford it) meat. They also eat beans, onions, garlic, and olives. Greeks drink wine and water.

c 70 AD The Romans introduce new foods into Britain, celery, cabbages, radishes, carrots, cucumbers, broad beans, and walnuts.

c 800 AD The Saxons eat bread and fish, cheese, and eggs. They drink beer and mead.

1300 The wealthy eat meat including ducks, swans, herons and blackbirds. Poor people live on bread and cheese and pottage (grain boiled in water with vegetables and (if you could afford it) meat or fish.

c 1525 Turkeys are introduced into England.

c 1585 Potatoes are introduced into England. However, the English diet remains very much the same as in the Middle Ages.

1633 The first record of bananas being sold in England

c 1680 The well to do eat pineapples and ice cream. Coffee and tea are popular drinks. Otherwise little changes. Poor people still live on bread and pottage.

1760 Eating potatoes and drinking tea has become common among ordinary people. Bread is still a very important part of people’s diet.

1817 The first recipe for potato crisps (aka potato chips) is published

1845 Henry Jones patents self-raising flour

1856 A man named Gail Borden patents condensed milk

1861 Garibaldi biscuits are introduced in Britain

1864 A man named John W. Reed invents the modern rolling pin with attached handles

1869 Margarine is invented by Hippolyte Mege-Mouries

1884 Evaporated milk is patented by John Mayenberg

1885 The cream cracker is invented

1892 Digestive biscuits are invented by Alexander Grant

1893 The electric toaster is invented

1900 The diet of ordinary people has greatly improved since 1900. Meat and sugar have become cheaper. People eat less bread and a more varied diet.

1908 Custard creams are invented

1910 Bourbons are invented

1913 Fred W. Wolfe invents the refrigerator for home use. Henry Quackenbush patents the spring-jointed nutcracker.

1927 Jaffa Cakes go on sale

1938 Ruth Wakefield invents chocolate chip cookies

1940 Food rationing begins in Britain

1950 The diet of ordinary people has improved since 1900. Food has become much cheaper.

1954 In Britain food rationing ends

1986 HobNobs are introduced